Disruption. Innovation. Two words that have been used to describe the ever-changing state of marketing in 2018, but what do those mean in practical terms?
Today we’re offering a summary on the present state of marketing. We’ll be looking at how marketing has changed recently, with a focus on the ‘new hotness’ that is inbound and conversational marketing.
The executive summary
For the terminally busy, here’s a brief rundown of this article’s findings.
- Inbound marketing leverages content and convenience to ‘pull’ buyers in
- It works for B2B just as well as it does B2C
- It’s generally cheaper than other marketing activities
- It makes clever use of current and emerging digital technology
- Marketers and business owners like it more than traditional methods
- It helps sales teams and marketers work better both together and separately
Outbound and inbound: what they are
Outbound ‘pushes’ a message out, as the name implies. Outbound marketing activities include email campaigns, cold calling and direct mail. Inbound, as you might imagine, is the opposite; it builds conversations and creates content that ‘pulls’ buyers towards your business.
This new method works, but it’s far from a fire-and-forget technique. Inbound marketing relies largely on analytics that identifies audiences in detail – and content that draws them in. Its sister activity, conversational marketing, operates on a similar principle wherein customers are offered the ability to have one-to-one conversations with a business across multiple channels such as email, Facebook and more.
Convenience is again king, and these activities reflect that.
Mobility and automation matter. Here’s why
As you might imagine, automation saves money wherever it appears. In a marketing sense, the rise of options such as chatbots has led to more affordable ways to engage with an audience. Conversational marketing reports have found B2C (business to customer) and B2B (business to business) use of chatbots on business websites to be an entirely global phenomenon, with 41% of business-related chatbot conversations having been found to have been started by executive-level professionals.
This trend is supported by how convenient the digital lifestyle is. Mobile searches are triumphant over other methods of search in their popularity; 49% of B2B researchers use mobile devices when searching at work and 48% of consumers begin any purchasing-related searching via their smartphone.
This instant access and simple searching (Google now operates a ‘mobile-first’ indexing system for mobile users), when combined with instant chatbot interaction, has made the path to purchase enviably easy with the right investment. Business has never been better.
A recent study by Statistica found that every single one of the most valuable forms of content marketing for moving B2B prospects through the sales funnel was inbound. Blog posts, white papers and video were the top three on the list.
Budgets are always a problem, and the layman might think that these inbound activities are more expensive to produce – wrong. A study by Demand Metric on the costs of marketing channels found inbound to be a whopping 62% cheaper than ‘traditional’ means while providing three times as many leads.
Attention spans are awful and that’s important
Ask any copywriter or content creator about attention spans and you’re sure to see a few rolled eyes! Capturing attention and keeping it are primary challenges in modern content creation, and the shocking statistics are arguably a reflection of how fast our societies operate in 2018.
Microsoft, of all people, did a recent study that found the average attention span to be eight seconds – how flattering! This is also a rather serious decrease from the 12-second result found in 2000.
If that trend stays on track, we’ll be at a one-second attention span by 2054. Oh dear. Better go shorten that title up there!
Great content – be it video or text-based – understands attention and how to grab and keep it. On a wider scale, though, this combination of low attention and ultra-convenience via smartphones creates an ideal climate for inbound marketing. Why? Because it’s always there. Chatbots don’t sleep, and your video and blog content is always viewable by your audience.
Inbound vs. outbound: number crunching
Numbers are (or at least should be!) the last word in marketing. That ROI figure is always important, and decision-makers are incessantly keen to ensure that the channels they invest their marketing budget into are the best ones.
Fortunately, the many reports and papers available online speak of a general shift towards inbound and content-based methods by B2B and B2C businesses both. Marketers are also on-board – HubSpot found 75% to rate their inbound methods as effective, compared to 62% when speaking on outbound activities. The same report found 52% of marketers to see more ROI from inbound than other methods; only 16% said the same for their outbound efforts.
The sales perspective
Salespeople are always up against it, and closing deals are getting harder for them. Prospecting – the act of engaging with leads – has been found to be a primary challenge: 40% of salespeople claim getting a response to be their biggest challenge, followed closely by scaling their activities (engaging multiple decision makers easily) and closing deals.
Outside of general inefficiencies (27% of salespeople spend over an hour a day doing data entry), making the marketing funnel easier means more leads per hour worked. The always-present nature of inbound assets such as content also allows for ever-valuable data to be collected as visitors navigate websites and share high-value items.
This data is exceptionally useful for activities such as account-based marketing, where greater amounts of time are spent understanding and qualifying high-value leads before engaging – powerful indeed where B2B is concerned.
Numbers never lie. In 2015, HubSpot found 52% of marketers to claim inbound as their highest ROI activity – that number is now 60% in 2018. Outbound, by the same comparison, has hovered at a poor 16% and 18% respectively.
That’s a wrap
Interesting figures, and an honest take from the QliQ team on why they are worth paying attention to!
We hope you’ve found today’s blog of real use. If you’re in the market for marketing and think we could be the fit for you, we’re right here by phone and email.